There were mannequins impeccably dressed,  greeting you once you get off of the elevator.  The purple banner shaped like a price tag caught everyone’s eyes. Men and women clad in formals are rushing down the corridor. This is just a fragment of the bigger picture of the activities, taking place on the fourteenth floor, minutes away from hosting a very important event. Bangladesh Brand Forum initiated the first-ever summit on retail business in our country and WebAble Digital was proud to be the social partner. The event was called Bangladesh Retail Congress, held on Saturday, February 7, 2016, at the Le Meridien Hotel. The theme of the summit was “Transforming to Sustainable Retail Business” where multiple key-note speakers came to share their valuable insights.

It was a congregation where international and national experts met, marketing heads sat and discussed the barriers they are currently facing, professors shed light on what needs to be done to overcome such barriers, industrialists spoke of Bangladesh’s growth potential and words like ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Future of Retail’, ‘Mobile Commerce,’ and technology flew back and forth. The day-long session was a platform to discuss key areas in a retail business, the status-quo, to talk about GDP contribution, tax incentives, friendly business environment, to share consumer trends, consumer behavior, to explore technology and innovation, to urge retailers of Bangladesh to pay heed to customers’ needs, to speak about a business strategy to help make the Millennials loyal customers and to help local retailers maximize their value creation and experience upward trending business growth.

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Yakeen Gazi, Senior Vice President IT, and Logistics of Hypercity Retail India Ltd was one of many amazing speakers who presented at the event. His session was on  “Transformation or Disruption IT the Catalyst.” Mr. Gazi reflected on how, if retailers do not embrace change and innovation, their journey would stop short, their growth stunted; they too will be wiped out, like Kodak, for instance, has been. Mr. Gazi warned retailers that they should focus on what will happen 10 years down the line. Additionally, he urged retailers in Bangladesh to ride on the third wave where consumers are the main point of sale; consumers are present anywhere, that is the place in the 4Ps of Marketing. He also added that the Millennials are the customers of the new retail wave and they are more interested in the ‘WHY’ rather than ‘WHAT’ or ‘HOW’. Thus, retailers should concentrate on explaining why their products and services are what Millennials have been looking for.

Another interesting speaker was Mr. Kurnal Rawat, creative Director of Landor’s Mumbai office. Mr. Rawat focused on “Branded Experience” where he wooed the audience with his passion for typography, visual art, and street signs. Mr. Rawat received cheers from females in the crowd when he talked about his own social experiment, where he sold “Love Boxes” at Dadar Railway Station. He portrayed this beautiful yet simple quote by Landor “One on one interaction will always be special. Products are made in factories but brands are created in the mind” when he wanted to explain to the crowd what brand presence means and to portray its importance. Moreover, Mr. Rawat rectified people’s common perception of design; we often associate design with luxury but he highlighted how it is more than luxury; design means efficiency meeting effectiveness. He said “offline is the new online.” The Creative Director also mentioned how rapid evolution and high competition exists in the market place and it demands something different; in his opinion, today’s brands thrive as they are agile and they need to stand for something that connects with the consumers. They need to have a philosophy, rethink the value chain, and be more customer-focused. The era has come where customers need to be at the center of every decision making. Mr. Rawat included the case study of Asian Paints and Usha, where they created interactive experiences, reaching the hearts of the consumers, creating memories, leaving everlasting impressions.

The Retail Congress was the beginning of a journey, a successful platform, aimed at uniting and hearing out retailers’ perspective. It parted with a promise that there will be more to look forward to in the upcoming years and WebAble was proud to be the social media partner of such an initiative.